How To Survive Your Freshers Year
This year is seeing the highest number of people applying to go to university, and I’m guessing that you are one of them. As I am now entering my second year, I am therefore wiser and feel the need to impart some of my self-learned knowledge onto you as a first year! I have compiled a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ and then hopefully you can have an insight into how much fun and exciting a year at university can be!
Leaving home can be a daunting experience and packing up all your belongings into bags and boxes isn’t a fun job. You also have to consider buying things that you never expected to own, like your own set of knives and forks (which you will become strangely protective over as the year goes on, especially if someone you don’t like starts using them). Parents are a useful tool for this: firstly they have more money than you and they also have experience when it comes to buying household items, like washing up liquid (you will need it and toilet bleach).
Bits & Pieces
Most uni accommodations provide you with things like mops, Hoovers, buckets, etc., but it’s always useful to have maybe a back-up kettle or toaster… I will explain: the kettle that was originally left in our flat used to turn itself on and boil whenever it felt like it. I walked into my kitchen one night to find my drunk flatmate staring at it and telling me that our kettle was actually “a Transformer”.
The flat opposite also had a Hoover that smelt of puke, so, a word of advice: don’t Hoover up puke or water. Big disaster zones. In fact, don’t Hoover up any type of liquid!
As a fresher you probably won’t find the Hoover unless
a) someone’s parents are coming to visit
b) you live with someone who has an OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or
c) your flat has become uninhabitable because of smells from various unknown places
Friends (Old & New)
The other big thing when moving away is leaving all your old friends behind. The way I got around this was getting a whole bunch of pictures printed off and dotted around my room. Facebook is essential with keeping up to date/stalking your friends from home. It is also quite a good idea once you can find out who you will be living with over the year because you’ll get a chance to see what they look like and maybe send a couple of emails to be friendly before you move in. One word of advice… don’t be “friends” with your Mum or Dad or other close relative on Facebook as they also have a way to stalk you!!
When I got to my uni accommodation I was the last of five to have moved in but fortunately they had left me a cupboard spare which coincidentally turned out to be the biggest cupboard in the kitchen! I would also advise getting your parents to do you a big food shop because they know what you need to survive on (my Mum went a bit over board on the beans though, I still have some tins left from September!) whereas if you go mad in a supermarket I’m guessing you just buy sweets, alcohol and fish fingers?
Cooking & Cleaning
Learning to cook at uni was one of the most progressive but probably life changing things ever for me! At home, Mum does it and you eat it, maybe help clean up? Or nothing at all? Well at uni, food doesn’t get made for you (unfortunately or unless you’re in catered accommodation, if so, you are so lucky!) and if you don’t cook then you will probably starve. My flatmate is completely hopeless at making toast; she once set it on fire, quite literally, with flames pouring out the top! In reaction to the serious problem, we jumped around the kitchen screaming ‘fire’ even though all uni accommodations are provided with a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket…
Eventually I blew it out like a really disgusting birthday cake. This brings me to the point: maybe clean your toaster out once in a while? The cause of our fire was an old bit of toast that had got stuck in there for ages, but do not fear, the toaster was fine!
My next tip is to be aware that food does and will go very mouldy if left for some time. If you are going home for a reading week or holiday then my advice is to clean out your cupboard before you go and throw away anything that will go off, e.g. bread. Coming back off the Easter holidays to find a completely green loaf sitting in the middle of the kitchen is not the best way to return! It was so awful and stank pretty bad that we thought he deserved a name, but unfortunately ‘Larry the Loaf’ was taken down to the bins pretty quickly! I’m sure we could have sold it to a science lab as penicillin.
My flat mates eventually came up with a good idea: wash up what you have used as soon as you can. For the first few weeks we all found it very difficult to get around this idea and soon the pile would build so big that there were no plates or no cutlery to use any more and we were forced into washing up! At one point we even put an advert up in the lifts to employ someone to do our washing up for us in exchange for food. It worked, but he was quite weird (he turned up wearing a sieve on his head) so he only did it a few times.
This is the first insane, unstable, neurotic week of your university life and it really does kick you in! You spend most of the days sleeping because you are busy using up your student loan on nights out. This is where you meet a bunch of new people that you will probably never speak to again so don’t worry too much if you do anything ridiculously stupid, although try not to because first impressions do count! Walking home with a traffic cone on your head and pushing your mates in a trolley is perfectly fine but getting in fights or breaking things will make people remember you for the wrong reasons. Also try and be safe, people prey on freshers because they are away from home and vulnerable. Don’t get so drunk that you don’t remember where you live, so try to stay with the people you know. I say try, but freshers is prime time if you are up for some loving, do bring a condom for your own sake.
Do not lose your keys! It’s worse than losing your ID. Most student insurance companies don’t cover you if your room is unlocked. Friends of mine had their TV and X-box stolen because they didn’t shut the door properly. My own experience was more amusing (although very annoying at the time): I didn’t lock my door when I went to get my laundry. I returned to find my entire bedroom (with the bed made) in the corridor outside, with my bras hanging on every door handle. On another occasion, the room was completely upside down, my laptop on the toilet, my bed back to front, and rude post-it notes everywhere.
This brings me onto the inevitable Facebook ‘frape’! As soon as someone has gained access to your room without you in it and you are signed on Facebook, then they can lock themselves in and alter every little thing on your profile, from your profile picture to the fattest man in the world, to your date of birth so everyone randomly starts wishing you happy birthday and you don’t know why!
Fresher’s has been the best year of my life and I hop yours will be too! You will meet new people, gain independence and get so much more immature! Good luck on embarking on the biggest journey yet!